Having a Purpose is Never Outdated
- Bahia Honda Bridge :
Henry Flagler had a vision of connecting Florida to the rest of the country. Even the remote, colorful island of Key West should be accessible. A railroad was the vehicle of choice at the turn of the 20th century. In 1912 the Bahia Honda Bridge was first opened and that dream became one step closer to being a reality. A recent early morning was my realization of a dream to photograph it.
At 225’ short of 1 mile, this is the most unique bridge in the Keys. Rather than relying on concrete arches as most others, this bridge used a steel Parker, or camelback, design. This design was required due to the depth of the channel and the large distance between spans. The Florida East Coast (FEC) Railroad and the lower Keys relied on this line until the Labor Day Hurricane of 1935. Much of the Flagler dream was destroyed in this devastating storm.
Automobiles and trucks had become much more popular in the 23 years of its usage. The State of Florida purchased the bridge from the FEC and installed a 2 lane concrete deck on top of the rail trusses. In 1938 the newly designed bridge was opened to automobile traffic. It served as a vital link in US-1 until a new all concrete bridge was opened in 1972.
Today the Bahia Honda Bridge stands as a historic reminder of a once great vision. It is in a state of continued decay, but has found a new purpose as a frequent stop for visitors to admire. As a photographer, it is a treat to capture the rusted and falling elements. Add a little help from Mother Nature and an approaching storm and one can make some art. Today this bridge is on its third purpose, which will carry this historic structure forward for many years to come!
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